Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New technologies combat environmental deadlock

In spite of technical advances in environmental science, it is still impossible to accurately predict the variety of ways in which "imported" species can affect specific ecosystems. A novel approach appears to be able to overcome at least some of the side-effects of the European Zebra mollusk species to the North American Great lakes.
New technologies combat environmental deadlock
The Zebra mollusk (Dreissena polymopha) was introduced to North America from Europe in the 1980s. Although the full environmental impact of that introduction is not clear as of yet, it is clear that the Zebra mollusk poses a serious threat to at least one branch of industry.

Industrial water-cooling systems in the Great lakes regions could be seriously compromised by the presence of Zebra mollusks. Heat exchangers at water-cooling systems appear to offer ideal conditions for the rapid growth of the mussels, which without any natural predators grow unchecked. Existing methods for removing the Zebra mussels include chemical and mechanical approaches, which can be costly and environmentally unfriendly.

Polish-based firm, EKOPAN S.A. offers an apparently safe solution through the application of biological barriers with specific properties. A 200 square meter barrier is used for one cubic meter of water. Inflowing water is treated with nitrogen through the use of gas diffusers located beneath the barriers. The presence of nitrogen causes lack of oxygen therefore eliminating all invertebrates located at the barrier site. Outflowing water is subsequently oxygenated to reconstitute the biotic potential of the water body.

The company is also conducting trials with barriers utilising less expensive materials, such as concrete composites, and is now seeking to form agreements with interested parties covering the technology.
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